- J.R. Smith had one of his best games of the season after a visit with Remington, a service dog who works with the North Carolina Tar Heels baseball team.
- Remington provides support to UNC baseball players and patients at the school’s physical rehabilitation center.
- Remington’s specialty is helping patients who are dealing with stress, anxiety, or other mental issues.
J.R. Smith had a terrific game against the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night, thanks to a home run of a pre-game visit with Remington, a golden retriever and therapy dog for the North Carolina baseball team.
The Cavaliers team trainer Steve Spiro arranged for Remington to visit the players the day of their away game at Charlotte, according to Cleveland.com. And for Smith, Remington’s visit was just the assist he needed.
“For me, it was exactly what I needed,” Smith, who has been struggling with his game, said. “Took my mind off the game so it could make me feel better.”
“I’m an emotional person,” said Smith, who has not revealed precisely what was troubling him. “I’m (inaudible) In my head. I don’t really express a lot of things. Let’s just say it was right on time.”
Smith scored 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting against the Hornets, after previously averaging only 7.6 points per game over the last 10 games, per stats from ESPN.
“I walk in the room and there J.R. is sitting on the floor… he’s sitting on the floor petting the (dog),” Cavaliers interim coach Larry Drew said. “I think it was the canine that got him going. I can tell he’s very fond of that dog and we’re going to have to get that dog back to more shootarounds.”
“We had breakfast and he was there petting the dog and we did our walkthrough,” Drew continued. “After the walkthrough he went back over to the dog. I think it was the canine.”
Remington is a service dog who works in the University of North Carolina’s campus health physical therapy department, and for the Tar Heels’ baseball team, alongside his human mother Terri Jo Rucinski. His job is to provide emotional support to patients undergoing physical therapy, as well as to the baseball players, especially the ones dealing with in ury. “He tends to go towards people that have higher anxiety,” Rucinski told CBS last year. “When we’re walking through the hallways, sometimes he’ll just anchor, which means he’ll just come and sit in front of them. He’ll just pick a random person in the hallway and I look at their athletic trainer and he’s like, ‘Well, he’s not starting today,’ or, ‘He’s hurt.'”
“He’ll lay down with them on the floor when they’re stretching or he’ll bring them objects to do exercises with,” Rucinski went on to say.
“Sometimes, when people are hurt, they can get into, you know, kind of a depressed mode, where they’re not a part of anything, but he just kind of uplifts everybody. They kind of turn the corner. They get off medications quickly and, as they say, it’s all sunshine and unicorns.”
In addition to his therapy duties, and naturally for a retriever, Remington will bring baseballs and water to umpires during games. He also knows how to fist bump players and stand for the national anthem.
Remington came to Rucinski through Paws for People, an organisation that trains and places service dogs. Previously, he had worked in a West Virginia prison, as part of prison rehabilitation program that allowed prisoners to train puppies, as reported by Andrew Carter in the News & Observer.Rucinski had put in an application for a service dog after UNC baseball players had asked to take puppies to visit children in UNC hospitals.
Remington was able to visit the Cavaliers in Charlotte as the Tar Heels were taking on UNC-Charlotte. Next up, he’ll help his team take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in a series starting on Friday.
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